the recruiting effort looks to be complicated by a higher-than-normal number of troopers expected to retire over the next two years, which also will increase pressure to hire police officers from local departments as those officers’ DPS training is far shorter because they are already certified peace officers. ...So, to the math: DPS is presently 243 troopers understaffed, wants to expand the total force by 500 beyond the current, budgeted number (250 of those coming in the 2016-17 biennium), and will lose 440 troopers to retirement in the next biennium. So the state would have to hire 933 troopers to reach its goal for the next biennium, with another 250 in the pipeline by 2019.
DPS Director Steve McCraw told the budget-writing committee Tuesday that hiring 250 new troopers is achievable by the fall of 2017. But he said the one big “wild card” is how many troopers will retire over the two-year budget cycle.
About 440 troopers are expected to do so, according to the Legislative Budget Board. That means DPS would have to hire 690 new officers to achieve a net gain of 250, which Otto said is not possible if the state sticks to its normal recruiting method.
Budget board analyst John Wielmaker told the committee the projected increase in retirements is due to the pay raises lawmakers gave to state law enforcement in 2013, which created an incentive for troopers who would have otherwise retired to keep working as their pension annuities are based on their final salaries. The trend has occurred in the past, he noted.
Asked by state Rep. John Raney about the link between the projected retirement wave and DPS needing to directly recruit officers from other agencies, Wielmaker told the College Station Republican that, “the agency would be very hard pressed based upon historical experience to add 690 troopers in two years without some other factors, including what you just mentioned.”
Regular trooper cadet classes graduate around 100 or so troopers, Steve McCraw told the House Special Committee on Emerging Law Enforcement issues last week, though the class expected to graduate in June will include only 56, bringing the number of unfilled positions down from 243 to 187. Cadet classes last 20 weeks and DPS will do three instead of two next biennium to fill these new extra slots.
For the rest, DPS has estimated it will cost $13.7 million per biennium per 40 person recruitment class for "lateral hires" poached from local police and sheriff's departments, but DPS only plans to hold six of those 8-week academies, which would bring in 240 extra, new troopers.
So where do the rest come from?